PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)– Blood donors are needed to meet an urgent need for local hospitals. The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC) donates blood directly to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and UnityPoint Health.
In March and April, local hospitals reduced patient care options to prioritize response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By postponing elective surgeries, demand for blood components dropped by approximately 40% compared to normal levels. Now that the hospital has returned to performing surgeries, a reduction of blood drives due to COVID-19 has created a shortfall for the needed supply.
“Right now, there’s OSF is working on its Reignite Program,” said Katie Middleton, Clinic Lab Scientist for OSF Saint Francis Blood Bank. “We’re starting to have more surgeries again and with that there’s an increase in the use of blood products, so as our donations have gone down, our need has gone back up.”
Donors may schedule an appointment to give blood at the MVRBC Peoria Donor Center or nearby blood drive by calling (800) 747-5401, scheduling online at www.bloodcenterimpact.org, or via the IMPACT mobile app (www.bloodcenter.org/app).
MVRBC projects it will lose nearly 20,000 donations from cancelled blood drives between March and August of this year.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations that host mobile blood drives have been forced to cancel or postpone events due to temporary closures, work from home policies, and other factors,” said Amanda Hess, MVRBC Director, Donor and Public Relations.
The appeal of donors comes in the days leading up to World Blood Donor Day. Observed annually on June 14, World Blood Donor Day commemorates the birth of Dr. Karl Landsteiner, born June 14, 1868, in Vienna, Austria. Landsteiner’s research identified the main blood groups: type A, type B, type AB, and type O, as well as the Rh-factor in blood.
To maintain a safe, hygienic environment at Donor Centers and blood drives:
- All staff and donors are now required to wear a face-covering while inside Donor Centers or participating in a mobile blood drive. Paper masks will be provided for those who arrive without their own mask or facial covering.
- Donors are now required to make appointments for donations. To maintain social distancing and appropriate donor flow, walk-ins will only be accepted when an appointment slot is available.
- Potential donors who are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 infection or who have recently has exposure to the virus are asked to refrain from the donation.
- Prior to donation, donors are screened for symptoms of illness (body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and hemoglobin level all are check, and the donor completes a pre-donation Donor History Questionnaire).
- When possible, donors are asked to complete the Donor History Questionnaire online on the same day as their donation (see www.bloodcenter.org/EarlyQ)
- The staff has added space between chairs in screening areas and in the post-donation refreshment area. Between donations, staff wipes down chairs and surfaces to maintain a safe, hygienic environment.
“We have implemented many more extensive [safety] procedures, to make sure that the donation process is safe,” said Jim Watts, Manager of Media Relations for Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. “So from cleaning, everyone is wearing face masks, things along those lines, just to make sure it’s a safe process for everyone.”
About Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center
Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC) serves more than 100 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin, as well as resource sharing partners across the country. Locally, this includes OSF Healthcare Saint Francis Medical Center (Peoria), UnityPoint Health — Peoria, OSF Healthcare Saint Joseph Medical Center (Bloomington), Graham Hospital (Canton), and OSF Healthcare Saint Mary Medical Center (Galesburg).